At 3:40 am, hours after the Baltimore Ravens defeated the New England Patriots to earn a place in Super Bowl XLVII, Ravens linebacker and staunch gay marriage supporter Brendon Ayanbadejo wrote in an email:
“Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti- bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?”
Ayanbadejo directed his email to marriage equality advocate Brian Ellner and Michael Skolnik, political director to hip hop impresario and same-sex marriage supporter, Russell Simmons.
“It’s one of those times when you’re really passionate and in your zone,” Ayanbadejo told Bruni. “And I got to thinking about all kinds of things, and I thought: how can we get our message out there?”
According to Bruni:
By “we” and “our” he meant the rapidly growing number of Americans who feel passionately about the justice of same-sex marriage and care about L.G.B.T. rights in general, and by “message” he meant that equal rights for all Americans means that two men and two women should be legally able to wed….
Ayanbadejo’s support for gay rights reflects a childhood and youth during which he mingled with a diverse group of people, including many who were openly gay or lesbian. At one point, he told me, his stepfather was the resident director of an L.G.B.T. dorm at the University of California at Santa Cruz; the family, including Ayanbadejo, lived there.
The Ravens linebacker was intitally thrust onto the political scene after Baltimore lawmaker Emmett C. Burns tried to pressure the team’s owner to silence Brendon’s outspoken support for gay marriage.
Ayanbadejo has also butted heads with teammates over his refusal to indulge in Chick-fil-A, “protesting” the sandwiches due to the chain’s very public anti-gay record.
In the lead-up to the Super Bowl on February 3, Brendon is talking to gay rights advocates on how best to seize the national media attention that comes with America’s most-watched television event, including Hudson Taylor, founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally.
“He’s so excited and ready to take a stand in whatever way he can,” said Taylor. “He is leveraging the biggest sports stage in the world.”
And should he and the Ravens win on Super Sunday, Ayanbadejo wants to take a completely different stage.
“That’s my ultimate goal after the Super Bowl,” Ayanbadejo said. “To go on Ellen’s show, to be dancing with her, to bust a move with her.”
Well, whatever the outcome, we’re sure Ellen will be glad to break it down, Degeneres-style, with Brendon.